So A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Not a bad book but I found out that I can’t read this book and watch The Green Mile at the same time. I would have finished it the other night but I tried doing both at the same time and it sent me into an anxiety attack. So that was something. But it doesn’t take much anymore. I mean, I spent the weekend with someone and they were listing off some restaurants and I kind of panicked and couldn’t make a decision and made her do it. But this was bad.
The book was written in 1993 and it’s set in the late ‘40’s. A young black guy is wrongly accused of killing people and is sentenced to jail. The guy’s godmother and another lady make the other lady’s nephew go and talk to the accused before he’s executed so that he will come across as more educated when he’s educated. Are we starting to see why I couldn’t read this during The Green Mile in my current emotional state? Which is sad because I’ve never seen that movie all the way through and I still haven’t watched it all the way through.
I hate the main character of Grant Wiggins. He’s pretentious. He’s one of those people that because they have an education after high school, they are God’s gift to the world. Some of the smartest people I know don’t have a college education. Wiggins hated going to see Jefferson because he felt superior to someone without an education. To Wiggins, if you weren’t educated, you were nothing. I hate that in person. He’s also called Professor and it bothers me. He’s a teacher, not a professor. They’re different things. And Wiggins doesn’t have the kind of education to be a professor. Wiggins is also seeing a married woman. Sure, the woman’s going to get a divorce but as the book says, a separation is not a divorce. I may be very conservative on this subject but don’t screw the girl you like if she’s still married. I feel like he changed minimally throughout the book. Yeah, he felt for people more but he was still kind of an ass, in my opinion. I did admire him getting in a fight because of Jefferson though. That was admirable.
During the trial, Jefferson’s state appointed attorney made Jefferson seem like less than human. The attorney went so far as to compare Jefferson to a pig. When Wiggins goes to Jefferson, Jefferson acts like a pig to make a point to Wiggins. And at the end, Jefferson tells someone to tell his godmother that he walked on his own two legs meaning that he didn’t go on all 4 like a pig. And they didn’t use pig in the book, they used the word hog. I know this is the 40s and things are totally different but it really bothers me that happens. Jefferson goes into a state of depression. I’m sure I would if I were wrongly accused and were going to be executed. I think that Jefferson was the one that stuck to his guns the most. He was stubborn about how he felt about being in jail. He kept his pride the whole time and he kept his pride the whole time.
A few other things. Then there’s the trio of religious leaders. The preacher, the aunt and the godmother. I see nothing wrong with trying to save someone before their death. But I don’t like how insistent they were. So that’s that. And I found it interesting that Wiggins called his aunt ‘Tante Lou’. I’m not sure why he would use the German word for Aunt. It just doesn’t seem to add up in my head. Like if it’s ever explained why he goes German for that, I missed it. He’s a black guy with, from what I know, no German blood in him or having German lessons.
Probably will not pick up this book again. It’s not that it was bad but it’s just one of those books that you just don’t pick up every day.
Personal update: Still dealing with a lot of stuff. Not fun stuff.